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NFL sets salary cap at $133 million, meaning Browns have $56.9 million in space

By Nate Ulrich Published: February 28, 2014

The NFL has set the 2014 salary cap at $133 million, an increase of about $10 million from last year, the NFL Players Association announced this evening.

The Browns have about $56.9 million in cap space, according to, so new General Manager Ray Farmer will be armed with plenty of flexibility when free agency begins March 11. Only the Oakland Raiders, with about $66.5 million, have more cap room, according to the website.

Below are some other Browns-related items involving the cap.

*With the cap set, the cost of franchise tags has been established, so the Browns know exactly how much it would take to lock down one of their notable potential free agents, Pro Bowl center Alex Mack or Pro Bowl strong safety T.J. Ward, to a one-year contract. For Mack, it would cost $11.6 million. For Ward, it would cost, $8.4 million.

*The figures, derived from the average of the highest five salaries at a player’s position, were released by NFL Network. Ward is considered much more likely to be franchised than Mack because the figure for Mack stems from the average of the five highest-paid offensive linemen, including pricey tackles as well as guards, not just centers. The deadline to apply a franchise tag is 4 p.m. Monday.

*But that doesn’t mean the Browns don’t want to retain Mack, too. They do want him back. Last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, new coach Mike Pettine said he’s eager to meet with Mack and sell him on his vision for the organization.

*Even though the Browns have plenty of cap space, it won’t preclude Farmer from cutting players he believes aren’t worth what they’re being paid. That started Wednesday when Farmer released inside linebacker and defensive captain D’Qwell Jackson, who was the longest-tenured member of the team and its undisputed leader. Jackson, 30, would have carried a $9.43 million salary-cap figure next season, which included a $4 million roster bonus due March 16 and a $100,000 workout bonus. The Browns tried to restructure the contract, but the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement and decided to part ways. As a result, inside linebacker has soared to near the top of the team’s list of needs.

* reported today, citing an unnamed source, that starting defensive end Ahtyba Rubin could be next. Rubin, who’ll turn 28 in July, will likely be asked to restructure the four-year, $26.5 million contract he signed in 2011, which would pay him a base salary of $6.6 million in 2014, the final year of the deal, according to the report. If a new agreement can’t be reached, Rubin could be cut. Billy Winn and John Hughes, both of whom will enter their third NFL season this year, would be candidates to replace Rubin if he is released.

Below is salary-cap information released by the NFLPA.

Q: What is the 2014 Salary Cap?

A: The 2014 Salary Cap is set at $133 million per Club, a $10 million increase over the prior year.

Q: How does that number impact each team?

A: The $133 million is the per Club salary cap. However, each team may, at its own discretion, carry over unused salary cap room from the prior League Year. Most Clubs elected to carry over Salary Cap room from 2013 to 2014. The average carry over for those teams that elected to do so was $6.1 million per Club. Thus, those Clubs have an average of $139.1 million to spend on player salaries in 2014.

Q: How is the Salary Cap calculated?

A: The Salary Cap is calculated by taking a percentage of all projected NFL revenues, subtracting projected benefits for the upcoming season, and dividing by 32 teams.

Q: What are team minimum cash spends?

A: Under the current CBA, Clubs have minimum cash spending requirements. For the years 2013-2016, Clubs are required to spend an average of 89 percent of the Salary Cap over the four-year period. League-wide, Clubs must spend an average of 95 percent of the Salary Cap over the four-year period.

This creates a cash-spend floor, forcing historically low-spending Clubs to offer overall competitive compensation for packages.

Q: Are player benefits taken out of this $133 million?

A: The $133 million Salary Cap is the cap on active player salaries. In addition, each Club will spend in excess of $33 million in benefits. This includes pension, severance, workers’ compensation, insurance premiums, disability benefits, etc.

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